Category five super-cyclone Winston made landfall in Fiji on Feb. 22, 2016. With winds of up to 180 mph, Winston was both the strongest cyclone to ever hit Fiji and the strongest cyclone on record to make landfall in the South Pacific archipelago overall. Fortunately, AmeriCares has stepped in to support Fijians in need.

AmeriCares, an emergency response and global health organization based in Stamford, Connecticut, is currently helping Fijians in their recovery and relief efforts. The organization has dispatched an emergency response team of volunteers to provide the medical care and assistance that some inhabitants require. AmeriCares has also prepared approximately 5,000 pounds of medical and relief supplies to deliver to Fiji.

Founder Robert C. Macauley first conceived of AmeriCares during the Vietnam War. In 1975, he and his wife sent an aircraft to Vietnam in order to airlift 300 infant orphans to safety in California. In order to do so, Macauley was forced to take a mortgage out on his house.

Since then, AmeriCares has worked in over 140 countries. These countries include North Korea, where the organization has sent medical supplies since 1997 — and Syria, where $7 million in medical aid has been delivered since 2012.

Approximately 909,389 people inhabit 110 of the 332 islands that compose Fiji. In Cyclone Winston’s wake, 347,000 now find themselves in need of humanitarian aid, of whom 120,000 are children, says UNICEF.

42 Fijians have been confirmed dead and some of the villages within the more remote islands of Fiji are thought to have been completely obliterated by the storm. An article by the Huffington Post reports that 35,000 are currently living in evacuation centers, some of which are running low on supplies.

Two major hospitals were also damaged by the cyclone, according to AmeriCares’ website. AmeriCares’ aid may thus prove an important component in supplementing some of the infrastructural support that was lost in the cyclone.

Jocelyn Lim

Sources: AmeriCares, The Huffington Post, UNICEF, William Grimes

A good way to learn about an aid organization is to see it at work on a current issue. AmeriCares is one of the organizations currently sending aid to countries affected by the recent West African Ebola outbreak.

Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are directly involved in what is being called the largest recorded Ebola outbreak in history. At least 700 people have already died, with 1,300 more infected. What’s worse, there is no vaccine for Ebola and the fatality rate is almost 60 percent.

AmeriCares has sent three shipments of emergency medical equipment to the affected countries. The delivery weighed 2,700 pounds and included tens of thousands of surgical masks and caps, gloves and various medical supplies.

Support like this is desperately needed in the affected countries, as they are lacking in medical equipment and supplies. Liberia and Sierra Leone have stated that the demand for intravenous fluids is rapidly outnumbering the supply.

Luckily, in conjunction with Baxter International Inc., AmeriCares is sending enough intravenous fluid for 3,000 patients. This should cover everyone affected in both countries for the near future.

AmeriCares is a U.S. based non-profit founded in 1982. Its main goal is to provide direct aid assistance during times of crisis. According to their website, they “deliver medicines, medical supplies and humanitarian aid to a trusted network of clinics, hospitals and health care providers around the world.”

Even though direct aid during times of crisis is its main form of support, it still tries to foster sustainable healthcare practices and to “increase capacity, improve quality and provide more access to health care in the world’s poorest countries.”

This means giving medicine and medical attention to people that would otherwise not be able to afford it. For example, in Romania a boy with hemophilia was given the treatment of Factor VIII so that he could live a normal life. Or in Cambodia, where a woman with breast cancer now has access to the medicine and equipment necessary for her treatment.

AmeriCares’ website has dozens of examples of the everyday lives it changes by simply allowing for access to medical facilities and supplies.

Besides the recent Ebola outbreak, AmeriCares is working on other current crises: it has delivered $19.7 million in relief aid to the Philippines in response to the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan. It states that its money is used for, “medicines and medical supplies, antibiotics, chronic care meds, bandages, nutritional supplements, blankets and other relief supplies for hospitals and health centers.” AmeriCares sends volunteers to help in the relief effort, as well.

AmeriCares is also active in the Syrian Conflict. In June 2013, it sent a response team to Jordan and Turkey to assess the situation of Syrian refugees. So far, $2 million have been sent in medical aid for the refugee camps.

The amount of medical aid sent will help around 67,000 people affected by this crisis.

– Eleni Marino

Sources: The Guardian, It’s Relevant, AmeriCares, Charity Navigator
Photo: New York CBS

Currently very active in the global health community, AmeriCares is a nonprofit organization that provides medical and humanitarian aid in response to crises all over the world. The organization was started in 1982 by Bob Macauley after witnessing the impact of delivering medical supplies to Poland while it was under martial law in 1981, and has worked to make a difference ever since. AmeriCares strives to help anyone they can without discrimination, hoping to provide people with the resources and help they lack.

AmeriCares works in over 90 countries, with a long history of involvement in emergency response and resource distribution. In the past, the organization has lent a hand in the conflict between Darfur and Sudan in 2004, the 2008 earthquake in China and the 2010 Chile earthquake. The response consisted mainly of delivering medical supplies pertinent to the crisis at hand.

AmeriCares is currently involved in a slew of emergency relief efforts, working to save lives around the world. Recently the organization has been working in South Sudan in response to the Cholera that has infected over 1,800 people.

After sending an emergency shipment of medical supplies to Sudanese refugees in Uganda, AmeriCares has been working to distribute the supplies and get people the help they need. They will be sending a second shipment with enough supplies to support 20,000 people to another organization leading relief efforts in South Sudan. The organization has also provided medical assistance for cholera outbreaks in the past in areas like Haiti, Kenya, Somalia and Sierra Leone.

AmeriCares has also had its hand in supporting those in danger by sending $800,000 worth of medical aid to people in North Korea. The country has been subjected to food shortages and natural disasters, as well as isolation that keeps them from acquiring the resources they need in order to survive.

The organization works domestically as well, assisting with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010. With a large base of donors and partner organizations with similar goals, AmeriCares is able to reach out to people at home and abroad.

– Maggie Wagner

Sources: AmeriCares, Stamford Daily Voice, Yonhap News Agency
Photo: Charity Navigator

Every non-profit has an honorable start to their missions, but Robert C. Macauley, founder of AmeriCares, has a particular focus. On April 4, 1975, a United States jet carrying 243 Vietnamese orphans crashed in the jungle outside of Tan Son Nhut. The U.S. was unable to reach them within 10 days, and when Macauley heard this news, he did what any good-hearted American would dream of doing. He chartered a plane and brought them to the U.S. within 48 hours.

Macauley was a paper broker in Connecticut at the time, he and his wife took out a mortgage on their house to pay for the $10,000 down payment for the Boeing 747. His dislike of bureaucratic red tape cost him his home, but gave him a calling.

Macauley’s calling gave rise to one of the largest non-profits in the world, AmeriCares. Currently, the organization works in over 90 countries and has supplied over $10 billion in aid, both foreign and domestic. Here are just three examples of their impact:

1. Relief Aid in Poland – 1981

Before AmeriCares, official conception, Robert Macauley had donated his time and money to a number of causes, but his action in Vietnam brought good media. News spread quickly of Macauley’s actions and in 1981, Pope John Paul II asked for his assistance. At the time, Poland was under martial law and in desperate need of medical supplies. By 1982, Macauley had gently wrestled $1.5 million in medical supplies from over a dozen companies. March of that year, he was able to airlift the supplies to Poland. This was the first official act of AmeriCares and an impressive one at that.

2. The Darfur/Sudan Conflict – 2011

In 2004, AmeriCares began a long-term relief effort in Sudan by delivering medical aid in order to support health services for the survivors on the Sudan conflict. With South Sudan’s independence in 2011 came a rush of refugees and native South Sudanese returning to their homes. Most were in need of shelter and medical assistance.

AmeriCares began supporting the efforts of Relief International in their health outposts and camps. In Renk, funds were used to rehabilitate three health clinics and installations of emergency medical modules. This helped with treatment of diarrheal diseases, medical waste management, sanitation and health education. The health clinics also saw installations of exam tables and benches in waiting rooms. These clinics served 14,000 survivors at Renk and another 13,000 in the Gendrassa camp. AmeriCares replenished low stocks of first aid supplies in Gendrassa.

3. Hurricane Sandy Relief – 2012

The most recent natural disaster seen in the United States was Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012. More than 80,000 residences were damaged and 8.5 million people were left without shelter or power. AmeriCares has provided over $6 million in aid that has benefited more than 465,000 people. Skilled in crisis relief, AmeriCares has supplied medicine, insulin and vaccines, enough bottled water for $75,000 people, diapers for 17,000 and much more for those in need. $2.5 million went to fund programs that provide displaced citizens with emergency warmth, disaster clean up and mental health counseling in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and New Jersey.

Currently, AmeriCares is looking for grant proposals from groups who are starting projects to help with the health needs of Sandy survivors. On July 14, New Jersey was awarded $200,000 in grants to help the elderly, disabled and low-income residents recover.

– Jordan Bradley

Sources: AmeriCares, The NY Times, Darien News, Queens Chronicle
Photo: Forbes